Talent Rule #5: Always Be Pre-Closing

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In the legendary 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross, Blake (played by Alec Baldwin) lectures his sales team on the “A-B-C’s of selling.” “Always. Be. Closing” he preaches. And when it comes to top talent, you must control the hiring process, which is why I train our team and our clients to “Always Be Pre-Closing.”

So how do you know if you’ve hooked a big one?
The definition of pre-closing is starting to socialize the idea of a salary range and potential start date to plant the seed and start moving in that direction. The sooner a hiring manager does this, the more likely it is to actually happen.

 

For example, once you have identified a top performer, start saying phrases like “if I am able to get you ‘x’ amount in salary approved from the CEO or ‘Board,’ could I essentially accept the position on your behalf with a start date of ‘y’?” This will weed out anybody not serious.

Pre-Closing Actually Starts Much Earlier in the Hiring Process
Right from the beginning, you need to know your competition. What other opportunities is the candidate considering? What will it really take to get the candidate to make a career move? Under what circumstances will he or she accept a counter offer?

In the first chapter of this book, I addressed a host of reasons why companies fail to make great hires. However, one thing I did not address is that many companies lose out on great people because they fail to recognize or anticipate the competition.

You are in a global market for talent. If you are not aware of competing alternatives, you are very likely to lose top candidates (and you might even lose the top people on your team as they are recruited away to these competing jobs).

How do you Find Out About the Competition?
Simple, just ask!

 Ask your top candidates about other opportunities and where they rank on a scale of 1-10 in comparison to yours. Ask the candidate about a timeline that they could potentially start, even at the beginning of the process, in order to get them to starting thinking about what timeline they may have.

Once you know what the competition looks like, you can then determine how to sell your opportunity against the other options. You can also begin to test the waters with questions like, “if we could offer you ‘x’, would that make our opportunity better for you than the others you are considering?”

Pre-closing is about learning. It’s about understanding what it will take to “make the sale.” It’s about learning where you stack up against other options… and what you must do to be the employer of choice for the candidates you want. 

Top Talent is an Investment
Top performers are 300 to 1,000 percent more productive than their peers (source: Dr. John Sullivan). As you go through the pre-closing process, you may discover deficiencies in your value proposition. Your pay may be too low. Your benefits may be insufficient. Or the opportunity for advancement may be to limited.

If you discover that what your company has to offer doesn’t stack favorably against the competition, it’s time for a hard decision. Do you invest to create a more desirable job? Or do you choose to pursue a different candidate?

When it Comes to Top Talent, One Size Does Not Fit All
If you discover that what your company has to offer doesn’t stack favorably against the competition, it’s time for a hard decision. Do you invest to create a more desirable job? Or do you choose to pursue a different candidate?

If you’re investing just to lure a candidate to your firm, and the job you offer really is not the best fit for that individual, you will lose that person in a matter of months or a few years. You are better off digging deeper to find the top talent who is also a top fit for your organization.

If the investment you make creates significant internal disparity within your organization, that superstar you hire could prove to be incredibly disruptive to your culture and detrimental to the performance of others on your team (just look at professional athletes if you need examples of this!).

When in Doubt, Get Help
As a professional recruiter for more than 15 years, I’ve had the opportunity to see recruiting done very well – and very poorly. When HR, senior executives, line managers and outside recruiters work together using a well-designed recruiting strategy, the results are unbeatable.

 
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